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Greater Brisbane region
Spring is now in full swing. Unfortunately, we can get some very dry conditions around now, which can spoil spring flowering and inhibit new growth. What you decide to do this month, especially with respect to fertiliser application and new plantings, may be be moderated by the amount of rain we experience this month and your ability to provide supplemental water if there isn't enough rain.
It's an appropriate time for general fertilisation of the garden if you didn't do it last month, but hold off unless you can ensure it will be watered in well. New plant growth stimulated by the warmer weather with be looking for nutrients, and soil microorganisms will be stepping up their activity, helping the nutrients in fertilsers become available. In anticipation of the summer months ahead, it's also a good time to mulch. (More on the following pages: Plant Nutrition, Mulches, Soils.)
Poinsettia will be past their best so cut back hard along with any snowflake bushes you haven't done already. As spring-flowering shrubs and climbers finish (e.g. Brunfelsia, Rondeletia amoena, Jasmine etc), it's time to prune (if necessary). This means that the subsequent new growth has time to mature sufficiently during the summer and autumn and set flower buds ready for next spring's display.
Even if you don't feel the need for significant pruning of shrubs, you may nevertheless consider trimming off dead flowers to prevent energy and nutrients being wasted on unwanted and unattractive seed pods (e.g. grevilleas, melaleucas and callistemons, Golden Penda) or if you are concerned about seeds being spread (e.g. berry-producing forms of Raphiolepis)
Meanwhile, dead-head spring flowering annuals and perennials to prevent seed-set and prolong flowering as long as possible.
Cut back tropical foliage plants like acalyphas, cordylines and crotons (if necessary) and they should shoot again quickly with the warmer weather. Save the prunings and use to propagate new plants.
If summer/autumn flowering tropicals like allamanda, mussaenda, pentas, plumbago need a cut back and you haven't done it yet, do so without delay. If it has been very dry, however, they may be struggling. You might wish to delay until good rainfall can refresh the plants and stimulate new growth, or even skip a year.
If dry, note that shrubs such as hydrangeas, gardenias and ixora that are developing flowers now and will require adequate water if they're going to put on a good show.
When attending flower shows, botanic gardens or open garden, be sure to take notes on the plants you especially like, so you can shop for them later. For those plants sold potted, get into the nurseries and make your purchases asap. If you're able to select from plants in flower, you'll be able to see the colour and form of the bloom for yourself instead of having to rely on. Unfortunately, label photo and descriptions can sometimes be be misleading or just plain wrong. Also, nurseries are more likely to carry the biggest range of a plant when it's in flower and looking attractive. Of course, if buying mail order, plants may not be available until their dormant season (e.g. bulbs and bare-root roses).
The Vegetable Garden
As noted above, it's a good time to fertilise and mulch. If there's been a lot of rain about, remember to compensate for leaching losses. On the other hand, if it's been dry, don't forget that adequate and consistent soil moisture is critical to good yields so provide supplementary watering if necessary (and if possible).
Along with the heat, pests and diseases are also ramping up, which is another reason keep already-planted veggies strong and moving along. Get your pest control strategies in order - consider insect-proof nets, fruit fly control bags and traps if you don't like spraying.
Just as we deadhead annuals to encourage more flowers, try to keep up harvesting of peas, beans, broccoli etc to extend production as long as possible.
Sowings of a wide range of vegetables can continue this month. Try tomatoes, eggplant, capsicums, cucumbers, pumpkins, watermelons, rockmelons, choko, lettuce, radishes, beetroot, silverbeet, beans, snakebeans, rosella, okra, and sweetcorn. Basella.
It's very difficult to grow veggies in the height of summer in SE Qld, even if you have the time to look after them with all the distractions of Christmas, New year and summer holidays. October is the last chance to get a wide range of vegetables underway while weather is relatively mild. Nevertheless, look out for the more heat tolerant varieties of traditional vegetables like tomato and lettuce (check the packets or catalogue for information) and start increasing sowings of heat-lovers like sweetcorn and okra.
Sorry, I haven't prepared any monthly notes for fruit trees yet.
The Flower Garden
See also: Annual Flowers and Bedding Plants, Seed raising
Garden shows, open gardens
See what's in the Events Diary for October. If you'd like to visit a show or open garden this year, be warned that the number of events will taper off we head into as summer and the holiday period.
Christmas & New year isn't far away, so hurry up and get those heavy landscaping jobs finished before it gets any hotter. You'll be ready and relaxed for entertaining visitors over the holiday season.
If you're starting to think about what to buy loved ones for Christmas, why not something for garden-related? Whether beginner or expert, old or young, acreage owner or apartment dweller, flower gardener or dedicated veggie grower, there's something for everyone. Get more ideas here: Garden Gift Ideas.
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NB: The info on this page applies primarily to the greater Brisbane region only. Naturally, it's a general guide and will vary depending on local conditions, weather, plant variety etc.
Ongoing water availability is also a big concern these days, so take this into consideration too, especially if planning new gardens.
Further development of the notes here has been suspended in favour of Get Results Gardening (see below). If you're in Brisbane, please do see for yourself how good it is by requesting a free trial.
Get Results Gardening is a weekly email mini-magazine with an SE Qld focus.
Reliable plants, fundamentals simply explained, achievable ideas, inspiration and motivation for a beautiful garden that compliments your house and makes your whole property more enjoyable to live in.